Shabbat Parashat Noach | 5768
The Halachic Parameters of the Obligation to Avoid Conflict - Part I - Based on Chavot Binyamin, siman 76 - From the works of Rav Yisraeli zt”l
The mishna (Pesachim 50a) says that one should conform to the local minhag on the question of whether to refrain from work on Erev Pesach. The mishna continues that one who goes from one place to another must conform to the stringent practices of both locations. It concludes that one should not act differently because of machloket (conflict). In the gemara, Abaye explains that the matter of conflict applies only to one who is lenient in a place where people refrain from a certain activity. Rava says that even one who goes to a place where people are lenient should not be stringent because of concern of machloket. The case of the mishna is an exception, as it is not evident that one who does not work is doing so because he feels it is forbidden to work. Thus, according to Rava, the fear of machloket overcomes the matter of al titosh (do not forsake the Torah of your mother – the source for keeping minhagim). Whether or not Abaye agrees conceptually with Rava, we accept Rava’s opinion.
What is the halachic rationale for the concept that the fear of machloket overrides the power of minhagim, which is based on a pasuk in Nach? Is it based on the concept of deracheha darchei noam (the Torah’s ways are pleasant), which makes it logical that a minhag should not be causing machloket, or is there a pasuk in the Torah from which it can be derived? Let us investigate the Torah law of lo titgod’du, from which we learn not to break up into factions regarding Torah practice.
Reish Lakish asked R. Yochanan (Yevamot 13b) about the institution of the Rabbis that different types of towns read the megilla on different days, which seems to violate lo titgod’du. The two argue in the ensuing piece about a relatively minor point, if megilla is the best case to ask from, as it is a violation rather than just a minhag. However, later on the gemara cites answers from Abaye and Rava. Abaye says that it is not a problem when different batei din in different places have different rulings. Rava says that even in one city there is a problem only when one beit din comes out with a split ruling.
When the gemara (ibid.) distinguished between megilla, which involves an issur, and work before Pesach, which is just a minhag, Rashi explained as follows. Regarding a minhag like work before Pesach there is only a matter of possible machloket, whereas regarding different days for megilla there is an issue of a Torah law (lo titgod’du). Rav Elchanan Wasserman asked why regarding a minhag Rashi assumed there was only a problem of machloket, if in fact there is a pasuk of al titosh. That which the mishna had referred to as machloket was only in regard to those visiting from other places, not those from a place that had accepted the minhag. The Ritva explains that a minhag is not like an issur in that it is possible for the people of the place that accepted it to back out of the minhag. However, this is difficult, as the gemara known as Bnei Beishan (Pesachim 50b) indicates that they cannot back out.
We have a problem regarding the p’sak halacha. The Rambam (Avoda Zara 12:14) says: “Included in this restriction (lo titgod’du) is that there should not be two batei din in one city, where one follows its custom and the other follows its custom, as this situation causes great conflicts as it says “lo titgod’du,” that you should not make factions and factions.” The commentators were surprised that the Rambam seems to accept Abaye’s opinion (above) against Rava, whose opinion we usually follow. It is also noteworthy that Rashi says that the problem of lo titgod’du is that it looks as if there are two different Torahs, whereas the Rambam says that it has to do with machloket. The Rambam is difficult as we have seen that the gemara views machloket and lo titgod’du as two different things.We will answer these questions and continue next time.
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